Trade Secrets: Arching, channelling and edgework

Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 17.06.16

A method that unites all three parts of the making process, for a more coherent and efficient way of working

Ever since violin making school, I approached arching and channelling as different stages of the making process. I used to do the rough arching with a gouge first, then use thumb planes to get closer to the final result, then carve a channel with gouges, and finally blend the channel and arch with thumb planes again. It always felt too disjointed, with too many steps, but it got decent results and I felt comfortable doing it that way. Or, to be honest, I was scared of trying something new and messing up an instrument. I finally summoned up the courage to use a different method on a viola.

There is no viola joke here. Since violas are less standardised than violins, they afford much more freedom to makers. This means I can pretend that whatever I end up with is exactly what I meant to do in the first place. On this instrument, based on a c.1620 Brothers Amati, I approached shaping the plates as a single step, arching and channelling at the same time with a big gouge, and then moving to the smaller tools (thumb planes and scrapers) only for the finishing touches.



Subscribe now to keep reading …

This article is available exclusively to subscribers – subscribe now

Already subscribed? Please sign in

Strad subscription

We’re delighted that you are enjoying our website. To access this content you need to be a subscriber.

As a subscriber you’ll receive:

  • Monthly issues* packed with news, interviews and features
  • Special supplements including Accessories, Degrees, Cremona and String Courses
  • A monthly digital edition and an archive of online issues going back to January 2010
  • Full access to all premium online content on
  • Two posters a year and the annual Strad Directory*

*To receive the posters, the Strad Directory and issues and supplements in print, you will need to take out a print + online package

 If you are not ready to subscribe, register now to enjoy a selection of free content (excludes premium subscriber-only articles)